I love fall for all of it’s glorious soup! This week’s weather switched from summer to fall perfectly in sync with the start of school and so began Parkis soup season! I have been itching to try The Blue Zones Minestrone recipes. Yesterday, time and ingredients aligned for that to happen. Last week my CSA had squash which I have to hide from my whole family to trick them into eating it along with some other beautiful and delicious (need to be hidden from children) veggies such as Swiss Chard and beet greens.

I did not follow the recipe exactly, but what I did take from it was throwing everything into the pot at once (how easy!) and using water for the soup instead of stock. I almost swapped in stock and I am so glad that I didn’t because the water gave the soup a clean, bright feeling and you could taste each of the individual vegetables which were perfectly balanced without being muddled by stock flavor. I didn’t take many pics along the way, but now I am wishing that I did because this was one of our favorite soups, ever and it is super healthy. Serve with some homemade sourdough bread for the ultimate healthy meal or any crusty bread you can find with a little olive oil for a nice treat.

Swaps: If you prefer using dried beans, soak them overnight as you normally would before cooking and simmer for 30 minutes (from cold) before tossing them into the big pot. You can also swap in any type of bean you prefer.
The vegetables are all interchangeable:
The onion can be swapped for leeks or shallots if that is what you have.
The tomato can be swapped for canned tomato, chopped cherry tomatoes..
The dark leafy greens can be whatever you have, but if you choose arugula or spinach, add them in the last 5 minutes.
The celery can be swapped for fennel, that is what was in the original recipe, but I didn’t have it. If you put in the fresh fennel you can use the whole thing and omit the ground fennel.
Use any type of potato that you have.
Use any type of squash that you have.
Use any type of pasta that you prefer (original called for fregula) or swap in rice or omit!

This recipe couldn’t be easier. Wash all of your veggies and set up a line from there to the cutting board to the pot, then set on the stove. This fills a 6qt. stock pot almost to the brim, about 8-10 servings as a meal served with bread. Depending on how many people you are serving you can have it for a few meals! I put leftover rice in the leftover soup the next day to stretch it and it was awesome!

Equipment:
Cutting board/knife
Large Stockpot
Spoon

Ingredients:
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 can chick peas, drained (Peel of the skin of the chickpeas, worth the time for the improved texture in the finished product- great task for the kids to help with!)
1/4 cup red lentils, rinsed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 bunch dark leafy greens, chopped (I used 1/2 Swiss chard, 1/2 beet greens)
3 celery stalks
1tsp fennel seeds, ground
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium russet potatoes, large dice
2 medium yellow squash, large dice
3qt. cold water

Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4c pastina

Parmigiano-Reggiano freshly grated, optional to serve.

Method:
1. Place all ingredients except for salt, pepper and pastina into pot and bring to boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Season with plenty of salt and pepper to taste, then add the pastina and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.

I hope you try this, it couldn’t be easier and it gets lots of veggies and beans into your diet which are key to staying healthy and feeling great! The whole point of The Blue Zones research is studying the habits of centenarians so we can all benefit. I plan to make variations of this every week throughout soup season to keep my family’s health on track.

Let me know if you made a variation that I should try, if it’s different and delicious we can post yours here on the site to share with everyone!

Happy cooking!